Philosophy is a problem discipline, and it’s defined as such by program officers. Philosophers do not believe that nonphilosophers are qualified to evaluate their work. Perhaps that comes out of the dominance of analytic philosophy, with its stress on logic and rigor. Philosophers think their discipline is more demanding than other fields. Even its practitioners define the discipline as contentious. They don’t see that as a problem; argument and dispute are the discipline’s defining characteristics.All that conflict makes it difficult to get consensus on the value of a philosophy proposal — or to convince people from other disciplines of its merits. The panels I studied are multidisciplinary. Nonphilosophers are often frustrated with the philosophers. They often discounted what philosophers had to say as misplaced intellectual superiority.
Philosophy seems to be an outlier within the humanities, just as Linguistics is; we have less in common with the other humanities in terms of the concepts and methods that we deploy, and even the subject matter, than they have with one another (I don’t think I could make the case for that claim in a rigourous way, but I’m convinced its true). Some philosophers, furthermore, seem largely uninterested in any other kind of intellectual endeavour, and this just increases the sense of the other humanists that wee are arrogant; worse still, those of us who are interested in other disciplines frequently look to the sciences and social sciences rather than to the rest of the humanities.
I sincerely hope that the arrogance Brighouse and Lamont find among philosophers isn't the norm. Indeed, I like to think that one thing philosophy ought to engender is intellectual humility. And my observation is that philosophy tends to be somewhat more interdisciplinary than many other disciplines. Not having much territory that belongs exclusively to us, we philosophers often have to look to other disciplines to complement our own insights. For instance, it's hard to tell the difference these days between 'pure' philosophy of mind and philosophically motivated cognitive science. With respect to the study of the mind, the interpenetration between philosophy and the empirical sciences is complete. Similarly, though there's still plenty of 'pure' practical ethics or 'pure' political philosophy, a lot of the most interesting work is empirically nuanced too. (I'm thinking of, e.g., so much of the work on global and institutional justice.) Now, this doesn't mean that when philosophers look to other disciplines, they look to the same disciplines. For example, I've often thought that one way to characterize the analytic/Continental distinction is that when analytic philosophers look outside the disipline, they tend to look to the natural sciences, psychology, and the more data-driven social sciences (economics, say), whereas Continental philosophers tend to look to literature, social theory, and the more culturally-oriented social sciences (e.g., anthropology).
Here's the teaching-related thought: Students come to philosophy with some disciplinary background. Even entering freshmen have a working understanding that the methods and objects of investigation vary greatly among history, mathematics, and literature, say. And I suspect that students' early experiences with philosophy are shaped by the place they expect philosophy will occupy in their own mental map of the various disciplines. And this, I think, is a double-edged sword. For while students can find in philosophy something familiar from disciplines that attract them, they will also find in philosophy something to which they are intellectually averse. To put the matter in somewhat stereotypical terms: The computer science major will welcome philosophy's systematicity, emphasis on explicit analysis, and logic, but may not be so enthusiastic about philosophy's openendedness and emphasis on intellectual toleration and empathy. But the English lit major will respond in the opposite way, welcoming the latter and being somewhat put off the former.
Of course, this doesn't imply that philosophy instructors should teach so as to welcome one intellectual orientation: The computer science major and the English lit major both become more cognitively limber by studying philosophy. But it's still worth thinking about student disciplinary expectations and where philosophy fits in. For several years, I've distributed a midquarter feedback survey to my students in my intro to philosophy and intro to ethics courses. One question reads:
This course is (exactly/more or less/not at all) what I expected.
Over the years, the distribution of answers has been about even, 30-40% for each response. This suggests that philosophy, for good or ill, confounds students' mental maps of the disciplines.
I'd be curious to know what teaching challenges this issue presents. I'd also really interested in hearing from people who aren't philosophers about their own experiences studying philosophy and how their reactions were shaped by their disciplinary backgrounds.